Photos: Reports from Beaver Island, a.k.a. Carp Mecca

Shawn Combs has a religious moment with a Beaver Island carp.
Photo by John Arnold; photo illustration by Jared Zissu

Life in the fly-fishing industry can be pretty hectic. We all love to go fishing on our days off, but we don’t often get a chance to spend time with others in our industry. When Cameron Mortenson, of Fiberglass Manifesto, invites you to join his annual carp-fishing junket to Michigan’s Beaver Island, however, you make the time. The crystal-clear flats around the island offer some of the best sight-fishing opportunities for golden bones anywhere in the country, plus you get to hang out with some pretty cool, knowledgeable, and fishy dudes.

The largest island on Lake Michigan, Beaver offers miles of productive flats.
Photo via Google Maps

This year’s adventure featured a cast of six intrepid angler/adventurers:

Cameron Mortenson, The Fiberglass Manifesto

Fiberglass and big carp go together just fine, as Cam Mortenson demonstrated.
Photo by John Arnold

In his latest article in Revive Journal, “Two Takes on Glass,” Cam talks about how much carp fishing can vary. On Beaver Island, the flies are big, usually shrimp and goby patterns up to four inches in length. It’s a style of fishing where you lead each fish by quite some distance, timing a sinking fly to land on the nose of a freshwater bonefish.

Shawn “Diddy” Combs, Orvis

The “bycatch” isn’t so bad, either.
Photo by Mike Ward

Steve MartinezIndigo Guide Service, and Mike Ward, Adipose Boatworks

Yes, Steve, we know: that’s a carp.
Photo by John Arnold

Steve is currently Indigo Guide Service’s record holder for longest guided trip, at 16 hours. Mike is currently down in the Keys, competing in the 2015 Del Brown Permit Tournament.

Kyle Wilkinson, Trouts Fly Fishing

It’s a rough trip when the fish you aren’t targeting are this good.
Photo courtesy Kyle Wilkinson

Kyle recounts the trip: “To put it simply, it was good. Damn good. Really damn good. But not easy. I’ve talked to quite a few people since my return back to reality and based off the pictures, I think they still struggle to believe that. I don’t believe there’s any such thing as ‘easy’ carp fishing, and it definitely doesn’t exist here. 8 and 9wt rods are the norm and you’d better be good at accurately casting 70’ with a cross wind to a cruising fish. All while anticipating the sink rate of your fly to make sure it intercepts your targets’ gummy chompers at just the right time.” Read the rest of Kyle’s story here.

Mike Sepelak, Mike’s Gone Fishin’. . .Again

Kissing carp is not for the weak-stomached, Mike Sepelak shows how it’s done.
Photo by John Arnold

Mike Sepelack. Renowned photographer and writer, getting intimate with his carp on day 1. Mike recounts the trip: “Top shelf anglers. Top shelf companions. I thank each and every one of them for a fabulous week in a fabulous place. The takeaway here is that if you want to improve your game, you take these opportunities. You swallow your pride and you expose yourself to the best and then grow from it. You keep swinging.And the best part of punching above your weight class is that every now and then, against all odds, you actually land a blow.” Read Mikes first-hand account.

John Arnold, Head Chef at Headhunters Fly Shop and Scumliner Media

John Arnold only allows photos of his “good side.”
Photo by Mike Sepelak

One thing is for sure: if you like carp fishing, here is a place that might top the bucket list. When you do end up pulling the trigger on a Beaver Island adventure, you will want to meet up with  Indigo Guide Service. They know where the carp live, and they know how to catch them. Shout out to Indigo guides: Kevin Morlock, Steve Martinez, and Austin Aducci. These are your “carp finatics” and your keys to success in Carp Heaven. Also don’t forget to bring your Tenkara rod.

Jared Zissu is the Orvis Social Media intern. He’s also the mind behind Flylords on Instagram.

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